Investors are taking a wait-and-see approach in the current climate of uncertainty caused by Covid, Ukraine, inflation and interest rates, according to Nicole Pötsch, Allianz Real Estate’s head of investment and strategic development for North & Central Europe.
‘What we’ve seen in the last few months and here at Expo is that investors are taking a wait-and-see attitude,’ Pötsch told PropertyEU. ‘Everybody is looking at pricing, which is a problem right now.’
Pötsch believes the UK is a little ahead of the curve and that prices are adjusting there, as reflected in deals done recently. Elsewhere she sees that sellers are pulling out of transactions. This has not had any influence yet on valuation, she said, and the question is, ‘when will valuation be impacted?’
On the positive side, real estate remains an attractive investment class in an environment of inflation as income is protected through indexing of rents, Pötsch noted. For residential this is only partly true, however, as even when rents are indexed the question is whether people can pay. Regulation can protect them in some cases, but they also have to deal with rising energy prices, so they are hit hard.
Said Pötsch: ‘Real estate remains an interesting asset class for Allianz, we just invest on a more select basis. The right price is always a question, so the selling and buying will be done more carefully than ever.’
In terms of asset classes, logistics real estate is still in favour with Allianz. ‘There is continued demand, the fundamentals remain strong, the rise of e-commerce, reshoring and nearshoring make the dynamics on the demand side strong,’ said Pötsch.
At the same time, there is a limit to more development in a lot of places and that is a drawback from an investor’s point of view. However, the logistics market is strong in all countries, she said.
The demand for offices is changing, according to Pötsch. Her focus is on ‘office properties in strong central locations’. People will be going back more to offices, she believes, because it is better for collaboration from the employer’s point of view. Allianz will invest in existing offices and preferably convert ‘brown’ assets to ‘green’ ones, she said.
Retail property accounts for around 15% of Allianz’s investments, and the firm will hold what it has: larger shopping centres that offer ‘experience’, but often also other services.
ESG is very important to Allianz, Pötsch stressed. ‘We value the social responsibility and the sustainability part tremendously.’ Key to every deal that Allianz does, she said, is how sustainable the property is and what it might need in terms of capital expenditure for an upgrade and to bring energy use up to a better level.